Why Dean Foods Shares Skyrocketed

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Dean Foods (NYSE: DF  ) soared 36% on Wednesday after the food maker posted a market-topping quarter, issued upbeat guidance, and outlined plans for an IPO of its natural foods subsidiary.

So what: Volatile commodity prices and high leverage have always given Dean Foods shareholders headaches, but today's wide second-quarter beat -- adjusted EPS of $0.36 versus the consensus of $0.31 -- coupled with the sale of 20% of its WhiteWave segment naturally eases some of those worries. The company is managing its milk supplies much better and management said it will use the WhiteWave proceeds to pay down existing debt, giving investors plenty of optimism over its prospects going forward.

Now what: For the full year, management said it now expects EPS of $1.18-$1.28, well above its prior view of $1.10-$1.20. "In total, strong operating segment performance, and a continued focus on efficiency and leverage reduction should drive continued strong operating income and EPS growth," said Chairman and CEO Gregg Engles in a statement. Of course, with the stock flirting with its 52-week high today and having more than doubled over the past year, I'd wait for a larger margin of safety before buying into that bull talk.

Interested in more info on Dean Foods? Add it to your watchlist.

Fool contributor Brian Pacampara owns no position in any of the companies mentioned. The Fool owns shares of Dean Foods. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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